Desiraju Bhavanarayana (D. B.) Rao passed away on December 17, 2017. He was 81 years old. Rao was a pioneer in the field of geophysical fluid dynamics and numerical prediction and is noted for numerous groundbreaking scientific achievements throughout his long career. He is best known for his analytical and numerical studies of long waves, ocean tides, storm surges, circulation in lakes and oceans, stability of fluid flows, the Proudman-Rao method for finding eigenmodes, and global-scale Real-Time Ocean Forecast System (RTOFS) implementation.
Rao obtained a master's (1959) and B.Sc. (1956) in meteorology and oceanography from Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, India, where he was also captain of the cricket team. In 1960, he became a graduate research assistant under the tutelage of George Platzman in the Department of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago. During his time there, D. B. published several ground-breaking research papers based on the Proudman-Rao decomposition for finding oscillatory eigenmodes of enclosed water bodies. He graduated with a master's (1962) and Ph.D. (1965) in geophysical sciences from the University of Chicago. A seminal paper based on his Ph.D. dissertation, "Free Gravitational Oscillations in Rotating Rectangular Basins," was published in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics in 1966.
After graduation from the University of Chicago, Rao became a postdoctoral fellow at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. In 1967, he moved to Ottawa, Ontario, to a position as research scientist for the Marine Sciences Branch of Canada's Department of Energy, Mines and Resources. In 1968, he became an assistant professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at Colorado State University, where he published several more innovative articles on instability and nonlinear interaction of baroclinic waves.
In 1971, Rao took a position as associate professor with both the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Center for Great Lakes Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. During his tenure there, he began to apply his theoretical constructs for geophysical fluid mechanics problems to natural water bodies--specifically, the Great Lakes of North America. In 1975, Rao joined NOAA as the division head of the Physical Limnology and Meteorology Group at the newly created Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL) in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Rao served in this capacity from 1975 to 1984, and during this time he laid the foundation for a robust experimental and theoretical research program at GLERL that continues to this day. During his time in Ann Arbor, he also held an appointment as adjunct professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Michigan.
In 1984, Rao accepted a position as branch chief of the Marine Modeling Branch at NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) in Washington, D.C. His leadership skills were instrumental in building the Marine Modeling Branch at NCEP into an essential component for innovation and implementation of marine forecast products, including the global-scale RTOFS. He retired from NOAA in 2006 and continued to live in the D.C. area.
Rao was highly recognized as an outstanding research scientist, including entry into Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World, and American Men and Women of Science. He was an elected full member of Sigma Xi and Fellow of AMS. Rao is survived by his wife, D. Padmavati Rao; his daughters, D. Pramila Rao and D. Kavitha Rao; and his granddaughters, Samiha and Haiden. D. B. Rao lived an extraordinary life that spanned continents and left behind not only a significant scientific legacy, but for the many friends, family, students, and colleagues whose lives he touched, he will always be remembered fondly for his generosity, brilliance, and irreverent sense of humor.
Caption: Desiraju Bhavanarayana Rao
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|Title Annotation:||45 BEACON|
|Author:||Schwab, David J.; Rao, D. Kavitha; Tallapragada, Vijay|
|Publication:||Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society|
|Date:||Nov 1, 2018|
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